Top Iranian female athlete defects

Iran’s only female Olympic medallist has said on social media she had left her homeland because she had had enough of being used by its authorities as a propaganda tool.

Taekwondo champion Kimia Alizadeh, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, implied in an Instagram post that she had moved to Europe. She wrote on an account she has used for some time, but it was not immediately possible to verify her location.

“No one has invited me to Europe and I haven’t been given a tempting offer. But I accept the pain and hardship of homesickness because I didn’t want to be part of hypocrisy, lies, injustice and flattery,” she said.

Mahin Farhadizadeh, a deputy Iranian sports minister, said: “I have not read Kimia’s post, but as far as I know she always wanted to continue her studies in physiotherapy,” the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Alizadeh said the Islamic Republic’s authorities had attributed her success to their management and the fact that she wore the Islamic veil, which is obligatory in Iran.

I am one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran whom they’ve been playing for years… I wore whatever they told me and repeated whatever they ordered. Every sentence they ordered I repeated,” she wrote.

“None of us matter for them, we are just tools.”